COLUMBIA, S.C. — (WLTX) -- Every school resource officer in South Carolina will soon be equipped with new gear. A new tactical vest will add an extra layer of protection for those who serve on the front lines.
"The school resource officers have a duty to protect the kids, we have a duty to protect them," U.S. Patriot Tactical Founder and Managing Partner Phil Dee said
Within seconds school resource officers across the state will be able to throw on an extra layer of protection thanks to a donation. An active shooter vest by U.S. Patriot Tactical will allow school resource officers to be ready if an intruder comes inside a school.
"The regular vest that they wear, it's not going to stop everything, it's not going to stop a riffle bullet," Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. "This vest will, so this is that extra protection that they need and we've seen in some of the shootings across the United States that they are not using pistols, they are coming in with high power riffles that vest won't stop it this vest will."
School resource officers already have vest, but this one has a thick piece of steel that can be hit not just once but multiple times.
"Our vest won't stop everything, so knowing that we have that extra protection it's really cool," School Resource Officer Lydea Proctor said.
U.S. Patriot was founded in South Carolina. The company makes both military and law enforcement products, but when owner Paul Yoo was picking up his children from school he saw the need for this extra protection.
"I saw the SRO walk outside and I realized like a light bulb moment the officers protecting my kids are not protected themselves," Yoo said.
Once he saw the need the company donated a few vest within Richland County. Then they decided to do more and donate one vest to every school district in the state.
"We ask our SROs to run, you know, in the army they said we run to the sound of gun fire and we don't run away from it, and that's what we are asking our SROs to do every single day in this state and across the country, and when they are doing it on behalf of our children I want them to feel a safe as possible," Yoo said.
Sheriff Lott said these vest are ready to go and could be in schools within a week, but they will definitely be ready for the start of the new school year.
Governor McMaster said there are still some school districts that do not have the funds to have SROs, but the goal remains to have at least one in every school across the state.