Saved by the vest

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 26, 2017

By Melanie Ruberti

LaGRANGE – Troup County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Hockett is living proof bullet proof vests are effective when worn correctly during dangerous situations.

Deputy Hockett’s vest saved his life on Jan. 9 when he was shot multiple times by Matthew Edmondson.

Hockett was responding to a welfare check at Edmondson’s home in the first block of Jackson Street near West Point.

The deputy was wearing a vest provided by Dana Safety Supply. The company, located in Buford, sells gear, equipment and apparel for law enforcement agencies, the military and first responders.

On Wednesday, two employees from Dana Safety Supply presented Deputy Hockett with a brand new bullet proof vest during a special ceremony inside the Troup County Jail.

The deputy put on the new safety vest and modeled it for his family, friends and colleagues on hand for the event.

“I’m glad I’m still here,” Hockett said. “I’m glad I am still going to be able to do my job.

“I am so grateful for this, you don’t even know it,” Hockett told the Dana Safety Supply employees as he held up his new vest after the ceremony. “… It (vest) saves lives. You never think about it until you’re in a situation and you need it. It works.”

“He did right. He did what he was trained to do … and I will continue to stand by that,” Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff told the crowd.

The sheriff then turned to Deputy Hockett.

“You acted heroically and did what you were trained to do and we thank you for that,” Woodruff said. “We thank your wife, Jessica, and your family for sharing you with us.”

Dana Safety Supply also presented Hockett’s wife, Jessica, with a dozen roses. The company also announced it will send the couple on an all-expenses paid vacation to a location of their choosing.

“It’s good to know that our vest did exactly what it was supposed to do,” stated Michael White, a sales associate with Dana Safety Supply. “… so we (company) wanted to do what’s right and to honor him (Hockett).”

The Troup County Sheriff’s Office mandated all their deputies must wear bullet proof vests while on duty, said TCSO Chief Deputy Jon Whitney. The policy took effect in 2013.

“When I pat you on the back, it’s not just to say, ‘Job well done,’” said Whitney. “It’s also to make sure you’re wearing your vest.”

Currently, there are no state or federal laws requiring law enforcement officers to wear safety vests on duty, Whitney added. That decision is left up to individual law enforcement agencies.

Meanwhile, Deputy Hockett has returned to duty at the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, said Sheriff Woodruff.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation continues to look into the officer involved shooting.

The agency has yet to release its findings.

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.