Walmart donation to aid with office safety

Published 9:05 am Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bogalusa Police Department officers will be a little safer when responding to wrecks or other incidents at night thanks to a donation from Walmart.

The company presented the department with an almost $1,000 grant that was used to purchase about 35 traffic vests and a road flare kit.

The lime green vests will make the officers more visible when working in nighttime conditions, Chief Joe Culpepper said.

“Half the trouble of working a wreck is working the traffic around it because your road is blocked half the time,” he said. “You have a lot of officer safety issues at night in these dark blue shirts, people just not seeing you.”

The vests will be useful anytime the officers are directing traffic, Culpepper said. One visibility issue is that the strobe lights now standard on police cars can sometimes be distracting to drivers and prevent them from seeing an officer standing in the road, he said.

The road flare kit contains twirling red lights and can be placed on the ground or used on a traffic cone to warn oncoming traffic that officers are present, Culpepper said.

“It’s just as much for officer safety as the vests are,” he said.

Enough vests were purchased to outfit the entire force, Culpepper said.

“We managed to buy one for everybody from the rank of captain down,” he said.

Velcro straps around the sides and shoulders make the vests adjustable. Culpepper noted each officer will be able to keep up with his or her own vest and keep it clean, “as opposed to just sticking one in a car.”

Culpepper said the donation was made possible with the assistance of local store manager Matt Hogan.

As the police department’s designated grant writer, Maj. Gene Crosby applied online for a grant through Walmart, Culpepper said. The application was sent to Hogan for review.

Hogan said Walmart makes donations to various nonprofit organizations, such as schools, and he looks to keep the money within the community.

“It’s just nice to have a partner in the community to do things like this,” Culpepper said, thanking Hogan for his help. “Some things are just harder to do through the city, and when we can get private funding for these things, it’s greatly appreciated.”