The Delaware County Sheriff's Office tactical unit and the Westerville Division of Police this month became the first police agencies to receive body-armor plates donated by the Blue Blood Brotherhood.

The national nonprofit organization, based in Florida, donated 28 sets of body-armor plates -- 14 for each department -- in memory of Westerville officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering, who were shot to death Feb. 10, 2018, when responding to a potential domestic-violence situation.

Tuesday Browning of Blue Blood Brotherhood said the group is raising funds with the goal of providing more body armor to other police agencies.

She said the organization provides assistance to families of fallen police officers and also works with active-duty and retired officers suffering from job-related injuries and conditions, including PTSD.

"This generous donation is especially meaningful, given it was gifted in memory of our fallen Westerville brothers," said Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin.

"Law enforcement is at its finest when we collaborate and just as important as working alongside fellow first-responders is partnering with our community," Martin said. "Often these partners see a need and rise to the occasion, or they want to show their support of law enforcement and they donate without ever being asked."

The donated armor plates are significantly lighter than those used previously by the sheriff's office, said public information officer Tracy Whited. They also have a 15-year lifespan, compared to the 10-year service life of the older armor, she said.

Browning said the armor was produced by ShotStop Ballistics of Stow, which donates part of its sales proceeds to Blue Blood Brotherhood. Skip Gavorski of ShotStop said each set of the donated body-armor plates is valued about $700, and all the company's products are manufactured in Ohio.

The armor is designed to withstand multiple shot impacts from handguns and rifles, including the AR-15, according to the company.

ShotStop also manufactures inserts that can be placed into a backpack, computer bag, luggage or purse to function as a ballistic shield.

Blue Blood Brotherhood in August donated 100 ballistic inserts, each valued at $300, to qualifying students at Sullivan County schools in Tennessee, in memory of former Sullivan Central High School resource officer Sgt. Steve Hinkle, shot and fatally wounded while on duty Feb. 26, 2019.

"We didn't start out thinking we'd be making bulletproof backpack inserts, (but) the unfortunate truth in today's world is that a product like this is needed and parents are asking for it," ShotStop marketing director Matt White said.

For more information about Blue Blood Brotherhood, go to www.bbb4leo.org.

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