VANDALIA — The City of Vandalia isn’t immune to the heroin epidemic sweeping the nation, and two Vandalia police officers have been on the wrong end of a needle in the past year.
A donation by American Legion Post 668 in Vandalia will give officers another tool to protect themselves.
The post donated protective gloves to the Vandalia Division of Police to help officers prevent wounds inflicted by needles and other sharp objects during pat down searches.
The need is very real.
“The idea is before we pat someone down we put these gloves on for added protection. We always ask if they have anything in their pockets and sometimes they are so used to saying no that they don’t think about having something sharp.”
Walker said it isn’t just a knife, it can also be needles, which are often dirty needles. Officers pricked by a needle must undergo testing over several months to check for Hepatitis or other blood-borne diseases.
“These gloves provide safety for our officers,” said Vandalia Police Chief Douglas Knight. “We have had two officers pricked by a needle in the past 12 months, and it is devastating to the officer and their family to have that uncertainty of not knowing what to expect. If we can prevent those injuries, we can keep Vandalia a safer community and protect our officers.”
Dwight Gillam of American Legion Post 668 said that members of the post are honored to be able to donate items to help protect those who serve the community.
“We try to help all the police departments and fire departments in the community and its a great privilege to help them,” said Gillman. “They are out there facing trouble all the time and if we can do something for them it makes us happy.”
Knight said that Veterans organizations have been working with the police department for years.
“We are very grateful,” said Knight. “Over the years we have had great support from Veteran’s organizations in Vandalia and this American Legion Post has been part of that. This American Legion Post provided the first crime scene vehicle the Vandalia police had back in the 1950’s, so our association with them extends over 60 years.”
Gillman said that the Veterans of Post 668 once served their nation in the armed forces, and now do what they can to continue serving their nation and their hometown.
“We are here to help the community to be a better place to live,” said Gillman.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.