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.”