Smith, who inherited a department that was not providing matching uniforms or bulletproof vests to officers, took the opportunity to make a much-needed equipment upgrade.
Officers are now sporting new load-bearing patrol vests that have taken the place of the traditional utility belt.
“Officers wear 30 pounds around their waist every day. This redistributes that weight so hopefully we won’t have back problems down the road,” Smith said.
The vests costs $400 each and are custom fit for each officer.
Smith purchased two heavy-duty entry vests that will protect officers from high caliber bullets as well as a vest for the department’s drug dog, SeaDoo.
Each officer will be assigned a ballistic helmet and a Go Shield, a lightweight, hands-free shield that can be deployed quickly in risky situations such as active shooter response and hostage rescue.
Officers can link their shields together during an incident for added protection.
The bulk of the grant, $18,000, went to purchase six dashboard cameras that have been installed in each patrol unit.
Smith acquired a Polaris Ranger 570, a utility vehicle that seats four, after hearing how difficult it was for officers to travel around the city after the April 27, 2011, tornadoes.
“They didn’t have anything to get around on. They had to borrow ATVs and UTVs from neighbors and friends,” Smith said.
The Polaris will also be used to patrol areas such as the local skatepark and will be stationed at Hudson-Kirby stadium during football games.
Other items on Smith’s wish list included a riot shield, six radios, six digital cameras, two desktop computers, one laptop, two Acer tablets, a defibrillator and a 39-inch LCD television that dispatchers will use to monitor severe weather.
“We definitely did not have 21st century technology when I started here. Now, I would say that our needs are covered. I think the community should be proud that they have a law enforcement agency that has been proactive and has the equipment to protect them,” Smith said.