As officers at the Millsboro Police Department got accustomed to new uniforms this week, a Lewes company donated face shields to protect them from the coronavirus.
The police department expressed gratitude to Brian Layton, owner of Sound FX Off-Road & Car Audio, for donating the shields, posting on Facebook officers that its are “truly appreciative.”
“Thank you for your sacrifices on a daily basis. We are honored to help,” Layton replied.
Sound FX is making, and giving away, 3,000 shields — each valued at about $6 — to police and healthcare providers.
The Georgetown and Seaford police departments will also receive them, as well as healthcare workers, including Layton’s mother, an intensive care unit nurse at Peninsula Regional Medical Center, and the wife of Matt Schaeffer, a technician at Sound FX.
The decision was made to provide them to Millsboro police after Layton learned they are patrolling areas including the inside of supermarkets, where conversation and sneezing is common. Healthcare experts have warned about droplets from coughs, sneezes and even casual conversation because they can fly at least 6 feet and infect others.
“This momentum was started by Matt and with Beebe not having enough face shields. It spiraled out to Bayhealth, and we announced we were making them. We stepped up from an initial 2,200 donated to 2,500 to now 3,000,” Layton said.
The donations began in early March.
Along with the shields, Millsboro officers are now wearing new uniforms — durable khakis with blue polo shirts that can be washed daily, in another effort to protect against the coronavirus.
The pants have pockets on the sides and are water-resistant, and the shirts are the type worn by officers who patrol on bicycles. All officers are issued boots.
“Our standard police uniform is not designed to be washed. They are designed to be dry-cleaned. They can be washed, but it’s better to dry-clean them,” explained Police Chief Brian Calloway, who is also wearing the new uniform.
For safety, they feature reflective tape, and they have officers’ names and a badge stitched onto the shirt.
For the standard uniform, each officer is issued three long-sleeved shirts, three short-sleeved shirts, three pairs of pants for winter and three pairs of pants for summer. Officers wear short sleeves, and no necktie, from mid-April to mid-October, then in the fall change back to long sleeves and neckties.
Calloway said he had talked to Millsboro Town Council members and advised them of his desire to substitute the new uniforms as long as the coronavirus remains a threat.
“They were very supportive,” the chief said.
“I think the Dover Police Department is doing something like this. It was recommended by one of our staff members as something to consider. They thought it would minimize our risk of exposure,” he said.
Officers are also wearing masks, including those donated by residents who sew and give them away.
“People like that really help. They give us hope that we are going to get through this,” Calloway said.