FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Florence County Sheriff's Office continues to do its part to stay on top of the shelf life of its personal protective gear.
FCSO Maj. Mike Nunn said there are around 150 sworn officers with the sheriff's office, with more on the detention center side, and every single one has a bulletproof vest.
Nunn said a quality vest can cost around $800 dollars each, meaning the FCSO has to stay on top of a replacement schedule.
Officers rotate the vests to avoid getting hit with a massive expense all at once. Each year, the department also budgets in funds for replacing them, which Nunn said keeps the FCSO from using a large amount of taxpayer money at one time.
"The last thing you want is your fleet to be degraded and you have to start all over with a tremendous expenditure," Nunn said.
According to Nunn, as new bullets are developed, the FCSO also has to stay on top of new technology from the vest manufacturer.
"We have done testing on them after the expiration date with live fire and they will continue to stop a handgun round," he said. "However, we still don't feel comfortable putting our deputies at risk."
In order for the gear to operate effectively, it needs to be maintained. Nunn stressed that there are limitations to what a bulletproof vest can do.
"There's no magic wand or fully encased protection, but it does do a pretty decent job under most circumstances," he said.
Each deputy gets measured for a custom-fit bulletproof vest, which is made with Kevlar fabric and has a metal plate that goes across the chest. It weighs around eight pounds, depending on added equipment.
Nunn said the lifespan of a bulletproof vest is not the only thing they have to stay on top of.
"Obviously a vehicle has a useful life as well, answering calls for service on a 24-7 basis," he said. "You can imagine the miles that are wracked up and the wear and tear on vehicles."
Nunn added the Tasers have a shelf life, and the cartridges are what have the expiration dates.
There is a designated fleet equipment manager that is in charge of all inspections and expiration dates for the life-saving equipment.
"We ask these people to do a dangerous job and we want to make sure we equip them with all the things they need to do that job," Nunn said.