By Ben Orcutt -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Front Royal police Sgt. Jason Ryman demonstrates the use of a ballistic blanket that Wayne and Sue Sealock, of Front Royal, donated to the department. Rich Cooley/Daily
FRONT ROYAL -- Thanks to the generosity of a town couple, the Front Royal Police Department has another tool to fight crime.
On Monday, the Town Council unanimously approved acceptance of a ballistic blanket from Wayne and Sue Sealock, the owners of Sue's Sewing & Embroidery at 201 E. Jackson St. The blanket can be used to protect officers from gunfire.
"Hopefully, it'll never have to be put to use," Mrs. Sealock said Wednesday. "We just thought it was something that could be really useful to the community at some time."
Sealock is the head of security services at Shenandoah University, and he and his wife bid on the ballistic blanket during a charity auction at a campus police association seminar the couple attended recently, according to Sgt. Jason A. Ryman, head of investigations for the Front Royal Police Department.
"This is one of the smaller ones, but just this piece here, this is about a thousand-dollar piece of equipment," Ryman said Wednesday during a demonstration of the device. "It's soft, ballistic armor, which is for all intent and purposes, this is the same material of the heavy tactical vests that we wear."
Ryman said the ballistic blanket will be maintained by the department's emergency services team, which is deployed in high-risk incidents.
One of the primary uses for the blanket, Ryman said, would be for a rescue operation, where a police cruiser could drive up near a victim and the blanket would be placed over the windows on the side of the cruiser to protect the driver and the rear passenger seat.
"You're providing a bulletproof type of shielding for the side of this car," Ryman said. "It could be an issue of a high-profile prisoner that you've got to move from one point to another and wherever you've got to take him in to, you have a building there where there may be a possible threat."
The Front Royal Police Department is grateful to the Sealocks for their donation.
"Oh, extremely," Ryman said. "We had looked at purchasing one of these last year, but the economy the way it is and everything else, it was wants versus needs. We had needs that we needed to take care of before the wants. This was one of our wants. It gives us another tool to be a little more operative in what we're doing."
The ballistic blanket is a valuable asset, Ryman said.
"This helps us dramatically and if we can get to where we can add on another one or two of these, well you add another one to that, you could potentially cover the entire side of this car," Ryman said. "Just this section, you have a light-armored vehicle."
The blanket could also mean the difference between life and death, Ryman said.
"Absolutely," he said. "You take this along with your body armor, you're actually providing double the protection here. It very well could mean the difference between someone getting either seriously hurt or killed and making it out OK."