Fund-raising effort for bulletproof vests not a scam

Hank Hayes • Aug 15, 2007 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — A fund-raiser for the Tennessee Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) said Wednesday his organization is soliciting money from the public to replace bulletproof vests for city and county police officers, and not for state troopers.

House GOP Leader Jason Mumpower said Tuesday the phone solicitation effort was for bulletproof vests for state troopers, and he labeled it a “scam.”

FOP fund-raising coordinator John Ross said phone solicitors have been clear about telling the public that the vests were for city and county law enforcement officials.

A solicitation letter sent by FOP President Brian Moran says the organization is working on a bulletproof vest program for “our new officers” to replace worn and outdated vests currently in use.

“These vests provide coverage for vital areas of their bodies in case of any shooting incidents. ... Naturally, the more successful our fund-raiser, the better we can protect the officers that risk their lives daily protecting us. Any and all support is much needed and greatly appreciated,” Moran’s letter said.

Mumpower insisted FOP solicitors “probably did say” they were raising money for state troopers.

“They admitted to me their language was not what they should be using,” Mumpower said of the solicitors. “If this was a fund-raising campaign for the Fraternal Order of Police, they should have indicated that. The Department of Safety and I were extremely concerned when we heard what we heard from citizens and business people. ... Our state troopers have all the safety equipment they need. ... (FOP officials) need to be more clear in talking about that or this would have never happened. (The Department of Safety) has talked to the company who has been hired to solicit for the Fraternal Order of Police. ... They have been told that if they continue to hear such instances (about soliciting on behalf of state troopers), they would be pursued by the appropriate state agency.”

For more information about the Tennessee FOP call 1-800-783-7591.

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