Over 32 officers including the Rhea County Homeland Security team were upgraded with new bullet proof vests this morning at the Sheriff’s Training Center in Evensville.

The total price tag was $27,000 and paid for in it’s entirety through the drug fund with which the sheriff was pleased to announce, “it didn’t cost taxpayers a dime”.

“We were in dire need of getting this upgrade,” insisted Sheriff Mike Neal.  “This is something we’ve need for a while.”

The new vests are designed to be applicable in any situation with the most secure configuration being able to stop a .308 caliber rifle.

Before the upgrade, only 60% of the department had armor protection.  The July 2016 shooting of Dallas police officers and other anti-law enforcement incidents around the country became a catalyst for the acquisition.

“The main thing with being sheriff is seeing my guys do a professional job and seeing them go home safely every night,” insists Neal.

Deputy Jesse Wilkey, who’s been with the department for nearly 10 years, said, “It feels great to have adequate protection.  He (Sheriff Neal) takes care of us everyday.  It’s an awesome feeling.”

While the complete department received bullet proof vests, the sheriff a significant taser purchase before the department is fully equipped.  The tasers are estimated to cost over $13,000.

If you would like to help with the taser purchase please contact the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department at 423-775-7837.