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Police gather bullet proof vests for Ukrainian citizens

By Mike Savino and Ashley RK Smith

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    Connecticut (WFSB) — People around Connecticut keep looking for ways to help Ukrainians, and now police officers are stepping up.

Several departments around the state are sending bullet proof vests to Ukraine.

Police officials in Hamden wanted to do something after seeing images of everyday civilians being killed.

Now several departments are stepping up to help them live their day-to-day lives.

Stephen Coppola is a retired police inspector from the Division of Criminal Justice.

He said, “there’s a lot of people suffering, there’s a lot of people dying over there, whatever we can do to help.”

Cppola says that when a Ukrainian friend asked for help getting bulletproof vests, he immediately knew where to go.

He reached out to two retired Hamden deputy chiefs. Soon, the Hamden Police Department was gathering up old vests.

Hamden Police Public Information Officer Detective Sean Dolan said, “when you have hospitals and places of people seeking shelter being specifically targeted, including the example I said of people just going out to get bread, they need protection too.”

Soon the New Haven, West Haven and Hartford Police Departments were chipping in.

Hamden police say they’ve gathered about 150 vests.

New Haven Police Chief Renee Dominguez said, “I was like, ‘this is an amazing,’ thought that, ‘I’m so glad someone brought to your attention.’”

Other departments are doing the same.

Trumbull Police gathered nearly 50 vests they’re bringing to Fairfield’s Department.

Police officials say the vests are safe, it’s just that departments get new ones every few years for liability reasons.

Hamden retired deputy chief Gabriel Lupo said, “Hartford tells us they destroy them, they incinerate them, some people leave them lying around, some people take them to the range to test fire on them.”

The retired organizers wouldn’t give many details about where the vests are going out of security concerns. But they say the vests are going to a licensed company that’s been sending supplies to Ukraine.

“Some people are stepping up to legitimately get these vests over there,” said Coppolla.

While these vests are considered safe, they’re not rated for some of the larger ammunition that Russian troops might use.

But, police say they can still provide protection for average civilians.

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