DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado is grieving over the third line-of-duty death of an officer in just a matter of weeks.
On Tuesday, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder revealed his fallen deputy and those that were injured in Monday’s shooting were all wearing protective gear.
“They were all wearing bullet-proof vests. They were all wearing bullet-proof vests that were identifying themselves as sheriff’s deputies,” Elder said.
Deputy Micah Flick, Deputy Zach Parish and Heath Gumm were all wearing their vests when they were killed, and some are raising questions about whether or not our law enforcement members have the protection they need.
Officer Bill Hummel with the Aurora Police Department wears a soft vest under his uniform. It’s a tool that many departments utilize, but he showed CBS4 that it only protects a portion of the upper body.
“When I talk to my mother, for example, she asks me why I can’t be covered head to toe in body armor and I while wish I could tell her that would be a possibility, it’s just not,” Hummel said.
In 2007 the Aurora Police Department took protection of its officers a step further, equipping them with a plated vest and helmets that can withstand a much stronger type of ammunition.
“It’s certainly something that’s not feasible to wear all the time,” Hummel said as he demonstrated the weighted vest.
Hummel says even with those additions, his department is continually looking at ways to improve safety. And with the current climate toward police there’s even more to consider.
“We’ve had three officers in just a few weeks killed here in the state of Colorado certainly it’s concerning for all of us, that’s why this equipment and training is more important than ever,” he said.
Many law enforcement departments in Colorado don’t have the expensive plated vests, and some state lawmakers say that needs to change.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.