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In response to the recent shootings across the country, the Hillsdale Police Department will pur­chase more safety equipment for its officers. Upgrades include body armor for defense against active shooter sit­u­a­tions.

“The equipment we are con­sid­ering is addi­tional safety equipment for the officer,” Chief of Police Scott Hephner said in an email. “This decision is based on events that have occurred nationally, including the weapons that have been uti­lized in these inci­dents.”

While the equipment is an improvement for officers, Hephner said only some minor adjust­ments will be required. Officers will need to wear the new active shooter response equipment while training to become com­fortable using it on and off duty.

“This new equipment does not change our com­mitment to the com­munity,” Hephner said. “Our officers are trained in responding to such events as an active shooter and will do so with or without the addi­tional equipment. This equipment is to enhance Officer Safety so they can effec­tively resolve these inci­dents.”

City Coun­cilman Bill Zeiser explained that the upgrade was a pre­cau­tionary measure. The new armor plates are intended to protect police officers when taking action against hostile gunmen. He empha­sized that the new gear was not in antic­i­pation of certain danger, but was a necessity in case an active shooter sit­u­ation occurred.

“It’s sad that even in a small town like Hillsdale, mass shootings are a concern,” Zeiser said. “This new equipment will help our police department be pre­pared for what we hope will never happen.”

When selecting the equipment for the city to pur­chase, Hephner said he focused on options that were portable, easily deployed, and could be worn over both regular police equipment and civilian clothes. Because the pur­chase was not a part of the police budget for this year, Hephner explained that they had a choice between making thrifty deci­sions within the current budget and including the pur­chase in the budget for next year.

“Those deci­sions and dis­cussion are ongoing,” Hephner said.

Com­munity member Penny Swan said she sup­ported the pur­chase because of its safety ben­efits. She echoed Zeiser’s com­ments that Hillsdale’s size was not enough to prevent an active shooter sit­u­ation from occurring.

“My feelings are we should not penny pinch when it comes to pro­tecting our police and fire­fighters, who lit­erally risk their lives while on the job,” she said. “We are a small iso­lated com­munity, but that does not insulate us from bad things hap­pening.”