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Bank employees raise money for Ardmore K-9 officer's ballistic vest

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

One of the newest officers for the Ardmore Police Department will soon receive a ballistic vest to help with suspect apprehensions and investigate drug cases. K-9 Ofc. Riggs and his partner, Cpl. Jared Johnson, accepted a $1,500 donation from Heroes with Hope and Citizens Bank and Trust on Wednesday afternoon.

Riggs joined the department about four months ago and recently assisted with the apprehension of a suspect in a Tuesday night shooting. Johnson said his partner has proven to be a valuable member of the department and will soon be better protected thanks to Wednesday’s donation.

Citizens Bank and Trust Company staff present a $1,500 check to Ardmore police Cpl. Jared Johnson and K-9 Ofc. Riggs Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. Riggs, who has been with the department for about four months, is too small for the vest left by his predecessor, Boss, who retired in September 2020.

“That way if we go into kind of any situations he’ll have a ballistic vest that is bulletproof, stab proof and slash proof that will keep him safe,” he said.

Citizens Bank and Trust Vice President Nancy Sjulin said the idea to donate for a new vest came about after a December board meeting at the bank. One board member who knows Johnson had learned that the vest from Riggs’s predecessor, Boss, was too big for the newest K-9. 

Bank employees agreed that their portion of money raised from the Dec. 20 Festival of Lights would go toward a new vest and volunteers raised about $500 that night. Sjulin said Citizens Bank donated an additional $1,000 after reaching out to Heroes with Hope Executive Director Melissa Woolly to learn about the cost of a K-9 ballistic vest.

Money raised was donated directly to Heroes with Hope, a local nonprofit established by Ardmore police officers. Woolly said the organization started primarily to support the annual Shop with a Cop program ahead of Christmas but started a dedicated fund specifically for the APD K-9 program about four years ago.

“That way we can help take care of them. When they need things like a ballistic vest or kennels, we can help provide that because we definitely want to take care of them. They’re a huge asset to the department and the community,” Woolly said on Thursday.

The organization also provides support for monthly K-9 grooming which is the responsibility of the handler, according to Woolly. A series of kennels were also donated to the department last year.

“I appreciate the support we get from the community to continue to help our K-9 program,” Johnson said.