Summit County police departments donating used gear to Ukrainian war effort |

Summit County police departments donating used gear to Ukrainian war effort

In total, about 80 items could be donated before the end of the weekend

Lt. Sylvia Simms of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office wears a small pin with the American and Ukrainian flags on her jacket at the Summit County Justice Center in Breckenridge on Thursday, March 10. Local law enforcement agencies, including the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, are joining others in Colorado by sending ballistic protective equipment to Ukraine.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

Though Russia’s invasion into Ukraine could feel worlds away for some, others in Summit County have close ties to the region. To stand in solidarity, local police departments are planning to donate used gear to Ukraine’s war effort.

The call for donations came from a few organizations. Some departments heard about the efforts from the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs or the Colorado Department of Public Safety, others from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police or the National Sheriff’s Association. Regardless of where they first heard the call for assistance, nearly all of Summit County’s law enforcement agencies are planning to donate extra or used equipment to a nearby armory on the Front Range. From there, the equipment will be boxed up and shipped to Ukraine.

According to a news release from Gov. Jared Polis’ office, the state is asking local law enforcement agencies to donate surplus body armor and ballistic helmets. All of the equipment is to be gathered by Monday, March 14.

Participating in the donations are all of Summit County’s law enforcement agencies except for Dillon Police Department. Dillon Police Chief Cale Osborn said his department doesn’t have anything to donate and that it has given used equipment to other law enforcement agencies in recent years.

Between the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, the Breckenridge Police Department, the Silverthorne Police Department and the Frisco Police Department, the county is planning to donate around 70 vests and four ballistic helmets.

The Breckenridge Police Department is also planning to donate around six empty vest carriers, too.

Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said his department has a couple of staff members who have ties to countries near Ukraine and that the cause of donating supplies was personal for his team.

Lt. Sylvia Simms was born and raised in Poland before moving to the U.S. in 2000, eventually ending up in Summit County in 2006. Most of her family still lives in Poland, which has taken in Ukrainian refugees.

“I was devastated,” Simms said about learning of the invasion. “I was scared, scared for Ukrainian people, scared for my little country and also very proud of Poland (and) what they are doing for Ukrainian people.”

Since the initial invasion, Simms said she’s noticed Summit County community members show support for Ukraine. Her co-workers have reached out to ask about her parents, who still live in Poland. She also said FitzSimons and Summit County Undersheriff Peter Haynes told her it was OK if she needed to take time off to visit loved ones in Poland, and they have allowed her to wear both an American and Ukrainian flag on her uniform.

Sgt. Barys Kuchynski of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office wears a small pin with the American and Ukrainian flags on his uniform on Thursday, March 10. Local police departments are donating about 80 items to the war effort in Ukraine.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

During a Silverthorne Town Council work session Wednesday, March 9, Silverthorne Police Chief John Minor told Town Council that his department was planning to donate vests that are still in good condition but are no longer supported by the manufacturer’s warranty.

“Once they hit their expiration date, we try not to issue them whatsoever. And again, they are still fine ballistically, it’s just an insurance issue ” Minor said.

The vests have to be issued to staff every five years, and they typically cost around $1,000. Minor said his department plans to keep a few on hand in case they hire a new deputy or need them for training purposes.

FitzSimons, Minor and Breckenridge Police Chief Jim Baird said participating in these efforts helps protect democracy.

“Freedom is core to government,” Baird said. “We’re part of the government here in the U.S. It’s absolutely foundational to everything we do, and so if we can do anything to help those that are trying to maintain their freedom, then we’re 100% behind that.”

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