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      Protect those who protect us with vest fund matching program

      COLUMBIA (WACH) â?? There is no dispute that body armor helps protect the lives of police officers who are involved in shooting incidents. According to an FBI study, â??the risk of sustaining a fatal injury for officers who do not routinely wear body armor is 14 times greater than for officers who do.â??

      Over the last 20 years, police departments across the country have embraced the need to protect their officers by proving vests, however, for many departments; it proves to be a budget breaker.

      Body armor can cost between $500 and $600 dollars, and when multiplied by several hundred officers can create a significant budget issue for cash strapped departments. In recent years, several federal grants have been offered to law enforcement agencies in order to offset the cost, while providing protection for officers. Additionally, vests need to be replaced after time, due to wear, and the breakdown of the fibers that create the resistance to bullets.

      The Columbia Police Department has taken care of such funds, looking to money from the Justice Assistance Grant , to cover 84 of the needed 214 new vests for officers. Invest and Wal-Mart have purchased 15 more, and now the department is looking to the public and a fund matching offer to purchase the remaining units.

      JHS Capital Advisors has launched the JHS Shield Program, to raise the money needed to purchase the remaining 116 vests for the department. According to JHS Holdings, every dollar donated by citizens and businesses will make a matching gift toward the needed vests. They point out that if 31 businesses donate $1,000 each, the cost would be completely covered.

      "Every single one of these officers is somebody's father, somebody's son, sombody's mother or somebody's daughter, and these men and women put themselves in harm's way every day to protect our homes and families, "said Columbia Mayor steve Benjamin. "they're family, fighting for us and this is our chance to keep them safe."

      For more information on the program, you can visit the JHS website . You can also make a donation by mailing a check to the Columbia Police Foundation, PO Box 1694, Columbia, SC 29202. The Foundation asks that you include "JHS Shield Program" in the memo line.

      The Mayor is holding a press conference at Police Headquarters at 10:00 Monday to formally announce the program.