NEVADA, Mo. — The Vernon County Sheriff’s Office has new tactical equipment to help keep its deputies safe.

“I think safety is number one, you know. If we can’t do our job safely and you know, be able to get to where we’re going, then we’re useless to the public, you know. We have to be safe for ourselves and, you know, in order to be able to protect everybody else,” said Sgt. Zesar Huerta, Patrol Sergeant, Vernon County Sheriff’s Office.

And that’s exactly what the office’s new protective shields will provide for these deputies.

“On these shields, these are issued to everybody on patrol that they can keep in their patrol cars. It allows for any kind of quick response where we need something with a higher ballistic rating than the vests that we currently wear. Then this one that we have here is a little bit smaller. It’s better for entries when you’re approaching with multiple people. You can have a person with a shield and the cut-outs on the side allow for, you know, people on each side to be able to make an approach with you,” said Sgt. Huerta.

These level 3 ballistic shields are made of kevlar and can protect against most rifle rounds.

“There’s different levels of ballistic rating. The level two generally is the soft armor, what we wear on everyday patrol, and it protects mostly against the different levels of handgun. When you get into level 3, that will protect you against most of the rifles that everyday people carry. The 223’s and 762’s,” said Sgt. Huerta.

The protective gear goes beyond protecting the deputy.

“These benefit not just the agency, the deputy, but the community as a whole because when one of those events, you know, does take place, which we hope it never will, if they’re going to respond to the danger, put themselves in between the citizens and that suspect, we want them to be able to have the protection that they need to not just protect themselves, but to continue to approach that suspect and apprehend them and make sure that the threat is neutralized,” said Jason Mosher, Vernon County Sheriff.