Oak Harbor, Anacortes, Skagit County donate ballistic vests to Ukraine

Jul 16, 2022, 9:12 AM | Updated: 9:19 am

A man walks among the debris of a destroyed local market after a Russian missile strike in the town...

A man walks among the debris of a destroyed local market after a Russian missile strike in the town of Bakhmut, Donetsk region on July 16, 2022 amid Russian military invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Anatolii Stepanov / AFP) (Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

A group of local law enforcement agencies is reaching a helping hand to people in need more than 5,000 miles away … on the battlefields of Ukraine.

The Oak Harbor Police Department, Anacortes Police Department, and Skagit County Sheriff’s Office have donated 160 pieces of body armor to the people of Ukraine who are defending their homeland.

“They’re ballistic vests, which are commonly called bulletproof vests. So somebody can put those on, and they’ll help protect from certain calibers of bullets and shrapnel-type of stuff,” explained Oak Harbor Police Chief Kevin Dresker.

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The call for body armor donations from the Washington State Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs came at the perfect time, Dresker said. The Oak Harbor Police Department already had a set of ballistic vests that had expired and were in storage, where they would have been destroyed if an alternative use could not have been found for them. The Anacortes Police Department and Skagit County Sheriff’s Office had a similar situation.

Despite the vests being technically expired as per the manufacturer, they should still function for quite a while.

“Typically, they’ll still be effective for a period of time,” Dresker said.

For the police officers in the department, donating the vests is a small but concrete way to make a difference after watching the horrific footage out of Ukraine.

“We see the images, we know about what’s going on over there … you feel, to a degree, impotent with being able to do anything about it,” Dresker said. “I think it feels good, at least for us in the police department here, and hopefully the community and the people who have taken part in putting this together, that here is this small piece of something we can do to try to help those people out, especially when you see the innocent civilians who are getting killed.”

And with Oak Harbor’s strong military presence from NAS Whidbey, it is especially meaningful to be able to help soldiers half a world away.

“Oak Harbor is a military community,” Dresker said. “When conflicts occur, military families understand what that means, and so being able to assist with something like this, I think, provides some small measure of satisfaction.”

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Oak Harbor, Anacortes, Skagit County donate ballistic vests to Ukraine