The Friends of Edgar County Law Enforcement took a big step in the goal to provide better protective gear for all local police and sheriff deputies at Saturday’s UTV ride in …
The Friends of Edgar County Law Enforcement took a big step in the goal to provide better protective gear for all local police and sheriff deputies at Saturday’s UTV ride in Vermilion.
Approximately 117 UTVs filled with everyone from law enforcement personnel to families shrugged off the 100 degree plus heat factor to spend four hours on the property of three landowners in southeastern Edgar County. Their reward for supporting the fundraiser was a barbecue feast prepared by Granville Colvin, Chip Keys and Jake Henson including 130 pounds of pulled pork, baked beans, chips, 40 gallons and lemonade and 422 of Georgia Colvin’s famous brownies — all served by members of the Paris High School football and basketball teams.
The goal of the fundraising project is to raise at least $40,000 to purchase each law enforcement officer a helmet and a protective vest that will stop high-powered rifle rounds. The total cost to outfit the officers of the Edgar County Sheriff’s Department and the Paris, Chrisman, Brocton and Kansas Police Departments is $1,050 per person. In addition, the group hopes to raise enough money to acquire at least two protective shields — one for the county and one for the city. The shields provide protection for the first officer entering a hostile situation.
Granville Colvin said the ride — which netted just under $17,000 — would not have been possible without the support of three landowners who allowed the UTV’s to cross their lands during the ride. All three landowners — who requested to stay anonymous — said the ride went well with no trash or damage visible.
Registration for the ride was per
person and many of the UTV’s had three or four people. All of the food was donated, he said, so 100 percent of the registration fee went to the project.
In addition to the ride, several items were raffled— including a .22 caliber Henry Silver Boy Rifle donated by Tingley Roofing. The gun is reminiscent of Old West craftsmanship with an American walnut stock and nickel-plated receiver, barrel band and butt plate embellishments.
Two other guns were donated by Goose Creek Guns as well as two wooden American flags handmade by John Fox of Chip Off the Black and Joey Tibbs of 22 Rounds. Thompson Motor Sports donated a $400 winch and Owen Motor Sports a $100 gift certificate.
Colvin said he was pleased so many young people — not just the high school students — were involved.
“Getting young adults involved shows our law enforcement there is respect out there,” he said.
Edgar County Sheriff Jeff Wood said there were several representatives of law enforcement agencies who attended the event including Champaign police officers.
Local businesses, banks and industries have been contacted about supporting the project, Colvin said, and many have donated.
“We recognize local government funds are limited for the purchase of such equipment and so we decided to help,” he said.
Wood said the organizers of the Friends of Law Enforcement began questioning him and Paris Police Chief Eric Brown about protection of county law enforcement officers. Colvin said he was shocked the present vests worn by police and deputies does not stop high-powered rifle rounds.
“These are our friends, family members and neighbors who are protecting us and we aren’t protecting them?” Colvin reiterated.
Once purchased, the new equipment will ride in the seat next to each on-duty officer, Wood explained. The officers are already wearing the lightweight Kevlar vest with smaller protective plates. No additional training is needed for the new equipment, Brown said, noting the new vests will quickly slip on each officer over their regular vest.
Anyone wanting to donate to the project can do so through the Edgar County Community Foundation. All donations are tax deductible as ECCF is a 501(c)(3), Colvin said. He thanked ECCF members Doug Hasler, Christian Colvin and Warren Sperry for setting up the project.
Anyone who has questions about the project — or wants to donate — may contact Colvin at 217-822-3425.