Heads up: Helmets save lives
In June when a picture of a helmet that protected the life of a law enforcement officer shot at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando circulated in the media, Tommy Underwood said it moved him to find a way for local officers to have the same protection.
“When I saw this picture (on television), I knew we’ve got to do something to protect our people,” Underwood said.
The Orlando officer’s life was saved after the helmet deflected a bullet from an assault rifle used by the man responsible for the mass killing inside the club. Forty-nine people were killed in the June 12 attack.
Underwood, a retired process server with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, contacted the Ten-24 Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded to support local law enforcement, to discuss options for raising money to purchase helmets for all law enforcement officers.
“We hope to buy a helmet for every certified law enforcement officers to include Crescent City Police Department, Palatka Police Department, Welaka Police Department, Interlachen Police Department and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office,” Underwood said. “We live in a rural community, and commissions don’t have money to do this.”
Underwood said he anticipates purchasing 155, helmets and his goal is to purchase 50 helmets at a time.
Sheriff’s office Capt. Joe Wells said helmets cost $419, but the foundation is checking with vendors to see if they will accept the state contracted price of $234 per helmet.
Prior to his retirement, Underwood spent eight-and-a-half years with the sheriff’s office and feels close to the law enforcement officers who protect the community.
“They are all brothers and sisters out there,” Underwood said.
Underwood said donations can be taken to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the South and West district substations, the Palatka Police Department or the Crescent City Police Department.
Underwood said he hopes to talk to service clubs in the community to consider participation.
Donations can also be mailed to the Ten-24 Foundation, P.O. Box 1964, Palatka, FL 32177. The donation should denote that the money be used for helmets.
Anyone with questions can contact Tommy Underwood at 227-8211.