Harrisburg police today showed off a pile of new protective gear, equipment it purchased with a grant from UPMC Pinnacle.
At a press conference this morning, the city’s police bureau shared samples of new vests, helmets and steel plates, part of about 120 pieces of protective gear that will help protect officers from lethal, high-caliber weapons, according to police Commissioner Thomas Carter.
In total, UPMC Pinnacle donated more than $40,000 for the equipment purchase. That figure includes about $20,000 raised last June from the “3.2 to Protect the Blue” race, which was organized by UPMC Pinnacle emergency room nurses, with the UPMC Pinnacle Foundation donating much of the remainder.
“I had no idea of the dedication and love that these people showed our officers,” said Carter, flanked by UPMC nurses and Harrisburg police officers.
The new gear includes 60 helmets, 40 “body armor level 3 ballistic” protective vests with steel plates and 20 additional steel plates, which can be inserted into the vests. The purchase was made through Royersford, Pa.-based Body Armor Megastore, which contributed another 10 armor body vest sets.
Carter said that the need for the equipment arose last year following the death of U.S. Deputy Marshal Christopher Hill during a raid on a house in Allison Hill. The bureau realized that its helmets and vests were not adequate to protect against today’s powerful firearms, he said.
“UPMC Pinnacle ED [emergency department] physicians and nurses have a great bond with the Harrisburg Police Department,” said Kathy Hogan-Flinn, nursing director of emergency services at UPMC Pinnacle. “Upon learning that they needed money to purchase protective trauma vests and equipment, our nurses sprang into action, and the ‘3.2 to Protect the Blue’ was born.”
Deputy Police Chief Deric Moody said that his officers will not wear the equipment regularly, but will keep it nearby in case it’s needed.
“The equipment will remain in vehicles most times,” he said. “If an officer is dispatched to a threat, they will have it on really quick.”
After the press conference, Mayor Eric Papenfuse stressed that the equipment was not the full body armor “riot gear” that the bureau requested in 2017, after high-profile clashes throughout the city between “anti-Sharia” protestors and “antifa” counter-protestors. That gear was already purchased following a $68,000 allocation from City Council, he said.
Both Harrisburg and UPMC Pinnacle representatives today said that they hoped the gear would help prevent gun-related injuries and deaths among officers.
“They see the tragic effect of gun violence in our country,” Papenfuse said, of the UPMC Pinnacle emergency room nurses. “So, they banded together.”