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Toledo approves new money to protect first responders

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:57 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Toledo City Council has approved new funding to purchase protective equipment for the city’s first responders. The funding will go toward the purchase of ballistic vests for firefighters and shields for police officers.

City leaders discovered the need for these items due to a series of dangerous situations over the last few months. During a shootout at a July 4 block party on Lawrence Avenue earlier this summer, firefighters were forced to enter a chaotic scene to attend to the wounded.

“Our folks were in a situation where the hot zone was well expanded further than we understood,” said Private Sterling Rahe of the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department.

Now, every firefighter on duty will have a vest in their truck that they can use if the need arises.

“There are times we’ve gone into situations that were totally different than we initially thought going in,” said Pvt. Rahe.

Meanwhile, Toledo Police looked at their procedures and protection after the murder of officer Brandon Stalker in 2021. Ofc. Stalker was shot and killed during a standoff that devolved into a shootout. Bullet-resistant shields will now offer police another layer of cover. Each patrol car will be assigned one. They’ll cover the officer’s head and center mass, with a small window for viewing.

“This is just another tool that the officers can have if there’s a standoff or if they’re in a position where they could be open to any fire,” said Toledo Police Chief Kral, who says gun violence is increasing and his officers are finding themselves in these situations more often. “Anything that they have that can save their life or their partner’s life, save a civilian’s life if they happen to be in the line of fire, we’re going to make sure they have them.”

“Society has changed. The levels of danger have changed,” said Pvt. Rahe.

Both departments will work with the supply they are getting this time around. If more are needed, both departments say they don’t think there will be a problem getting them.

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