Jackson police outfitted with protective gear

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Jackson police officers will soon have protection from hazardous materials in the form of new biochemical suits and masks.

The protective gear arrived at the station last week, paid for with money from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through the State Emergency Management Agency, or SEMA, said Capt. Robert Hull.

Jackson's 21 suits were ordered through the Missouri Police Chiefs Association, which requested the funds from SEMA, Hull said.

The disposable suits can be used by police when responding to hazardous materials spills or in searching suspected methamphetamine labs, which emit dangerous ammonia fumes.

"These will allow us to do our job out there," Hull said, "without having to dodge things."

Since March, the federal government has handed the state nearly $60 million to better equip disaster response teams.

About $580,000 was designated for teams in Southeast Missouri for planning, training, disaster exercises, and equipment purchases and maintenance. The money was split among teams in Jackson, Sikeston, Poplar Bluff and Kennett.

Hull said officers will be trained in how to properly use and inspect their suits, masks and air filters by instructors from the city's fire department. Each suit comes with its own soft duffle bag for storage.

Jackson is apparently the first police agency in the county to receive the suits. Cape Girar-deau police are still waiting for their suits to arrive, said spokesman officer Jason Selzer.

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