Brotherhood of the Badge

October 16, 2008 10:00:28 PM PDT
Fresno's brotherhood of the badge has been sending new and surplus police equipment to emerging law enforcement in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2004.The first shipment of surplus ballistic vests from the Fresno Police Department in March of 2004 was a huge hit with Iraqi cops. An email to friends at home from a Fresno cop serving in a military police reserve unit inspired the donations of protective gear to Iraqi cops-in-training.

Mike Harris of Brotherhood of the Badge said, "We take what's not needed and put it in the hands of somebody that can use it."

A new load of hundreds of used ballistic vests, new boots - flashlights, radios and more will be taken to Iraq by the 6-hundred-forty-ninth army reserve unit the same unit that inspired the program. The mission continues.

Mike Harris said, "As the 649th is deploying again they're going to be able to take a substantial load of equipment with them such as the equipment we took the first time on our personal delivery."

Thursday afternoon members of the unit arrived from Camp San Luis Obispo to pick up the donation.

SSgt. Chris Davis of 649th Military Police Reserve Company said, "If we want to turn over the authority and power back to the people we're helping in Iraq or Afghanistan, this operation here will push that timeline to a sooner date. That's how important this mission is to us."

In February of this year the brotherhood of the badge made a personal delivery to cops in Afghanistan and learned of another need they are working to fill.

Mike Harris said, "Most recently we've found that they are in dire need of firefighting equipment."

Word of that trip made it to Canada and a call came to Ken Shockley of the Fresno Fire Department.

Ken Shockley said, "And these group of firefighters unknown to us, in Canada, have been doing the same thing ... they've got the same kind of setbacks that we've had, shipping is the big thing holding us back."

So a new alliance is being forged to continue outfitting fledgling public safety organizations where the American Military is helping to train them.

Ken Shockley said, "It makes you optimistic for the future and that what you're doing is making a difference."

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