Widow of fallen BRPD officer fights for bulletproof vests for all officers
BATON ROUGE- The widow of fallen BRPD hero, Matthew Gerald, is fighting to have all officers outfitted with bulletproof vests that can withstand rifle power.
When Gerald was killed in an ambush in July of 2016, his vest did not protect against rifle power.
"I was naive to the fact that the vest that he had couldn't withstand rifle power," Dechia Gerald said. "Going forward I found these things out with the investigations and there were things that I didn't know."
Working with CALEF, the Capital Area Law Enforcement Foundation headed up by Former Baton Rouge Police Chief Pat Englade, Gerald is advocating for other law enforcement officers to be better protected.
"Our goal is to get every law enforcement officer in our area in a vest," Englade said. "I could not believe we had police departments and sheriff's offices without vests."
CALEF is pushing for departments to be outfitted with a vest called Angel Armor. Ballistic tests show it can withstand almost everything shot in its direction. The key is a plate that absorbs bullets like a sponge. In fact, the rifle that Gavin Long used in the July 2016 ambush was stopped by the Angel Armor.
"Allows for the officers to have full rifle protection at all times instead of having it in the trunk of their vehicles or on their side seat," Aaron Pettigrew with Angel Armor said.
As Gerald gets ready to mark a somber two-year anniversary of Matthew Gerald's death, she's pushing forward with purpose.
"I don't want any other wife to have to go through what I've been through," Gerald said. "Had I known then that he didn't have that, I would have made sure as a wife that he did."
Currently, Englade said the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office is getting ready to purchase 120 vests. They don't come cheap. Each one is approximately $1,200.
If you would like to help, CALEF is holding a fundraiser on Saturday, August 25, 2018, at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. All proceeds go to the purchase of protective equipment for law enforcement.
Contact Pat Englade for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org