Officers saved by body armor honored by manufacturer

Ceremony at Safariland's Jacksonville headquarters recognizes 3 officers

By Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Three law enforcement officers injured in the line of duty were honored Friday for their bravery.

Sgt. James "Buddy" Brown, a South Carolina sheriff's investigator; Richmond, Virginia, Police Deputy John Rotondi; and Philadelphia Sgt. Sylvia Young and were celebrated by at the Jacksonville headquarters of Safariland, the manufacturer of the body armor that saved their lives. 

The officers know, firsthand, the importance of wearing their body armor. The presentation gave officers the opportunity to share their stories of survival

Brown was one of four officers ambushed by a gunman in South Carolina. He nearly died. Thanks to his Safariland helmet, Brown said, a bullet was stopped from ending his life.

"I was shot in the leg, my rifle hand and I was also shot in my helmet," Brown said. "They've cut it open now to get the bullet out of it."

Brown, along with Rotondi and Young, also got the opportunity to thank the men and women who made their protective gear. 

"It's emotional being here because I know, because of y'all, I'm here," Young said.

Young was sitting in her patrol car in 2016 when a gunman started shooting.  Ed Hinchey, the director of Safariland Group Saves Program, explained Young's armor stopped five bullets from penetrating her chest.

"Shot her through her shoulder, down her side as she was trying to move to cover," Hinchey said. "And she has hits across her shoulder, but then the scars stop where the armor took over."

For the staff at Safariland, having these officers share their stories and getting the chance to meet them, shake their hand and embrace them is what makes their job worth it.

"There's nothing better than having these three heroes decide to come to Jacksonville and say thank you to our workers.," Hinchey said.

According to the company, it has saved more than 2,000 officers, nine of whom work for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Each time an officer is saved by their body armor, Safariland honors them for bravery and gives them a new set of body armor.

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