NEWTON, Kansas – When you think of Special Weapons and Tactics, bake sales, BBQ and T-shirt sales don’t usually come to mind.
But, that’s what the Emergency Response Team in Harvey County is doing.
“They shouldn’t have to be selling fireworks, flipping pancakes,” says Harvey County Sheriff T Walton. “They shouldn’t have to do that. These guys are in specialized training. They are in very risky situations and they should be budgeted. That is the whole point of this.”
But they are not budgeted. At least not completely.
“Things like training, the city pays for their training,” says Walton. “And they do a lot of training. But they only get about $3,000 for their budget and that… that all goes to buy ammunition.”
The Emergency Response Team has turned to sales to buy equipment.
“If they have an expired bullet proof vest they don’t want to wear them. I don’t want them to be wearing them,” says Walton. “But these guys are so dedicated they are going to go. They are going to answer these calls. But we should do everything in our power to make sure they are safe when they go into these calls.”
Walton says expired bullet proof vests (yes, they expire) and 20 and 30-year-old gear need to be replaced.
Walton also says he’s grateful the community comes to the fundraisers, like the fireworks tent the Emergency Response Team hosts each year.
“They do various things. But understand this is a SWAT team,” says Walton. “It’s kind of weird that they have to do all this fund raising to support themselves which, in the long run, is a benefit for the whole county.”
Walton and Emergency Response Team members say they continue to work on grants to help out with funding. They also hope the community comes to the aid of the team.
“Both the police and myself (county sheriff) pull things from out budget when and where we can to help,” says Walton. “But it’s tough. These guys deserve better.”