Smithfield PD receives 10 lifesaving vests, helmets

Smithfield PD receives 10 lifesaving vests, helmets

Officers receive rifle-rated Angel Armor ballistic vests and helmets thanks to a donation by Renewal by Andersen and non-profit Shield616, who works to provide top-quality vests to local law enforcement and first responders. From left: Officers Kyle Phillips, Thomas DeCristofaro, Domenic Martone, Sgt. Dennis Courtmeanche, Officers Ryan Perry, John Beausoleil, Sgt. Orlando Braxton, Det. Sgt. Douglas Cerce and Officer Jon Ricciarelli. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)
32 more to go, says chief

SMITHFIELD – Thanks to a generous donation from a local business, ten members of the Smithfield Police Department will now be equipped with higher-rated, lightweight Angel Armor vests, but the remaining 32 officers in the department remain with the less protective gear.

On July 10, the nonprofit Shield616, which works to get protective gear to first responders, teamed up with Renewal by Andersen to supply the Smithfield Police Department with 10 Angel Armor rifle-rated vests and ballistic helmets.

Nine patrol officers and one detective will wear the new gear, which is more protective than the equipment currently used by the department. Chief Richard St. Sauveur said all members of the SPD are equipped with bulletproof vests that are replaced every five years, but said the Angel Armor is a higher level of protection.

He explained that the current gear is rated for shots from a handgun – similar to the sidearms carried by officers – and the new equipment will be rated for more powerful shots from rifles.

According to the chief, each kit cost approximately $1,500. He said he wants to keep the momentum going and continue collecting donations to gear-up all of the officers.

“This is huge for us. I hope that we can get the rest and get all of our officers protected,” St. Sauveur said.

He pointed out that the School Resource officer, Jon Ricciarelli, and DARE officer, Ryan Perry, both were included in the first group of ten to receive the Angel vests. He said being in the schools made equipping both officers with the new vests a high priority.

He added that with the station so close to a few of the schools, most officers stationed in the building will most likely be first responders should a situation happen at any of the schools.

“We all need them, too,” St. Sauveur said.

He and Town Councilor Maxine Cavanagh both said they hoped another Smithfield business like Renewal by Andersen will support the Police Department and help acquire the remaining 32 vests and helmets needed.

According to Betty Shea from Renewal by Andersen, $5 from every window sale in Smithfield went toward the “Window of Giving” donation funds. She said the company decided to “turn love into action” and provide protection for the SPD.

“We love you for the work you do,” Shea said about the SPD.

Inside each vest is a removable plate that can be taken out to make the vest lighter weight but makes it a less effective bulletproof vest, or it can be kept in for rifle-round protection. Sitting on a table in the Sergeant Norman G. Vezina Community Training room at the Smithfield Police Department, 215 Pleasant View Ave., were examples of fiberglass plates that had taken a hit.

“It will hurt, but you’re going to be alive to feel it,” said Sgt. Paul Gorman of the Smithfield Police Department.

Gorman said the vests are 8 pounds, or about half of what the department’s other vests weigh, at 15 to 30 pounds depending on padding.

“They’re designed to be worn 24/7,” Gorman said.

Shield616 Founder Jake Skifstad said the organization relies on donors such as local churches, businesses and residents. Skifstad said he began Shield616 after the realization that his Colorado Springs Police Department patrol officer’s vest would not save him if he had been shot during a shootout with a rifle-wielding gunman at New Life Church in 2007.

After being shaken by the “what if” moment, Skifstad opened Shield616 in 2015, and the organization has since provided more than 3,000 vests to departments in 23 states.

“You have 32 more to go with a sense of urgency,” Skifstad said.