FAIRFIELD COUNTY, CT (WFSB) – As the fighting rages on, local police departments are the latest in a long line of Connecticut residents doing all they can to help Ukrainians stay safe.
On Monday in Fairfield County, several police departments are sending in some of their old equipment that they no longer use.
More than 200 pieces of protective equipment such as bulletproof vests and helmets will be packed and shipped to Ukraine.
Led by the Fairfield Police Department, it was the effort of 12 departments across Fairfield County that answered the call when local leaders reached out.
Members of the Ukrainian American Club of Southport came up with the idea of collecting protective equipment that was no longer in use.
“We asked what can we do? What is the most significant thing. Certainly there is a humanitarian need, but they also said that we really needed protective equipment. I thought about it for a few days and thought about how to get there,” said State Rep. Laura Devlin.
There is nothing wrong with vests, but in the United States law enforcement industry standards mean that vests are replaced every 5 years.
Previously notified vests and helmets will go to the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council.
From there, a Ukrainian organization on the ground, authorized by the State Department and the Department of Defense, will then distribute the equipment to local defense teams in hotspots across Ukraine.
“It helps us give back. As police officers, we’re on the road every day trying to keep everyone safe, they’re out there trying to protect their land and their families, so there are a lot of parallels there. The hope is that they go out there and be used for a good cause and protect lives,” said Fairfield Police Chief Robert Kalamaras.
Devlin, contacted the Fairfield chief, as well as Alex Plitsas, an Army veteran who served in special ops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and had connections in Ukraine since working for the Secretary of Defense.
“We seek to influence the outcome of the war. Putin may not be listening to protests in small town America, but when his forces face a well-equipped homeland defense force with the protective gear you see here, there’s no weapons, nothing offensive, it gives the Ukrainians a fighting chance.
Plitsas hopes the effort will spread, and it already does.
Last week, the departments of Hamden, New Haven, West Haven and Hartford showed vests they send.
Since departments here get new vests every few years to keep up with industry standards, that means those old ones can come back to life and hopefully save lives as well.
“It helps us give back. As police officers, we’re on the road every day trying to keep everyone safe, they’re out there trying to protect their land and their families, so there are a lot of parallels there. The hope is that they go there and be used for a good cause and protect lives,” Chief Kalamaras said.
Fairfield police said they would package the donations and send them to the Ukrainian American Coordinating Committee on Tuesday.
From there, this organization will distribute the vests to defense teams in Ukrainian hotspots.
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