Okla. sheriff's office to use CARES funding to purchase stab-resistant vests for jail officers

“It’s not if we have a detention officer stabbed or cut, it’s when,” Sheriff Chris Elliott said


By Sarah Sinning

WAGONER, Okla. — Detention officers with the Wagoner County Sheriff's Office will soon have an extra layer of protection when they report for duty, Tulsa World reports.

Using CARES Act funding, the sheriff's office is in the process of purchasing 30 Level 1 spike vests and carriers, enough for every jail employee to have one, Sheriff Chris Elliott said. The total price tag for the body armor is $18,600.

While some facilities require COs to wear protective vests when on duty, most jails don't provide them for their officers, says Sheriff Elliott.
While some facilities require COs to wear protective vests when on duty, most jails don't provide them for their officers, says Sheriff Elliott. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The vests will protect officers from edged weapons and other hard contraband being thrust into the front and back of an officer's body, the sheriff said.

“It’s not if we have a detention officer stabbed or cut, it’s when,” Elliott said. “It’s going to happen. Detention officers are stabbed and killed at an alarming rate in jails all over the country.”

Recently, the facility has had an issue with inmates removing screws from light fixtures for use as weapons. 

“I don’t even know how inmates get the screws out,” Sheriff Elliott said. “But if they sit on metal long enough, they will figure it out.”

While the sheriff says most jails don't provide officers with Level 1 spike vests, he sees the technology as indispensable when it comes to staff safety.

“We want to be the best and most protective jail in the state, and this technology is how we get there," he said.

Next: What correctional officers need to know about stab-resistant body armor

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