ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The number of police officers killed in the line of duty nationwide so far this year is almost twice as many as last year.
A Dougherty County civic club stepped forward on Tuesday to help, giving the Sheriff's Office the money to buy three bullet proof vest kits to protect the lives of deputies.
"I challenge everybody to do what you can to support and protect the people that protect us," said Dougherty County Rotary Club President Donna Gray.
The Dougherty County Rotary Club said that its mission this year is to honor public service.
After recent fatal police shootings, the club donated more than $1,700 to the Sheriff's Office for three bulletproof vests.
"I said it's more important no than ever we go ahead and write this check," explained Gray.
Each bulletproof vest kit costs the Sheriff's Office $550 dollars, and that's matched by a justice department grant.
But so far this year 23 police officers have been killed by gunfire, and the deputies want them.
"They are hot. They are cumbersome. But I'd rather wear this and go home, than not wear it and not go home," said Dougherty County Sheriff's Office Captain Ken Faust.
With new deputies graduating from the police academy soon, new vests are needed.
"Now it's more poignant than ever. What the need is for our folks," explained Dougherty County Sheriff's Office Colonel John Ostrander. "This is a great way for our folks to be assured the community has their back. And they are appreciated."
The Dougherty County Rotary Club then challenged other south Georgia clubs to 'Back the Blue.'
"I did want to challenge the other rotary clubs in the surrounding area and civic organizations," said Gray. "If you can afford to buy one vest, that's one life you could save."
A gift that law enforcement officers appreciate more than ever.
The bulletproof vests used by the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office have to be replaced every five years.