Dallas, Luzerne County -- It's about 16 pounds of protection lined in a police vest. Now, Dallas Township Police Department has 15 body armor vests called Active Shooter Response Kits. Dallas Township Police Chief Robert Jolley wanted the vests for his officers for quite some time but couldn't come up with the $5,500 so he had an idea. "Why not approach the university and see if they would be in concert with, you know, seeing that the officers are afforded this level of protection."
Misericordia University footed the $5,500 cost for the potentially life saving ballistic vests. "We're glad to be a part of it and help out. We are a part of the community and it's important for Misericordia to always be a safe place. That's what education is about," said Misericordia University President Tom Botzman.
It's scenes of horror like the April 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting that make police in the Back Mountain want to be prepared -- just in case. "Coming off a Virginia Tech and some things that have occurred on college campuses as well as the, you know, lower schools," said Chief Jolley. Misericordia University Associate Director of Campus Safety Robert Zavada added, "We are not going to be naive enough to think that it could never occur anywhere."
Chief Jolley says having the body armor protection is vital to stopping an active shooter. "If we lose an officer in a response, the effectiveness is also decreased. So, this allows the officer to continue his response and also enhances our capability to respond."
Misericordia senior Michele Maczuga considers the campus a safe place but knows, like every other college, it's not immune to violence. "It's always in the back of your head because you always see stuff on the news all of the time and you know it can happen." The student from Mountain Top is glad to see Misericordia provide police the ballistic vests. "If they do have something like that it obviously will protect them so I think it's definitely a positive and it will be really beneficial towards everyone."
Ten of the 15 vests were already issued to Dallas Township Police Officers. The rest will remain in the department's emergency response vehicle for other first responders to use if necessary.